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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 1

Our weekly look at individual Washington Capitals‘ ups and downs:

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth The early numbers (1-1-0/3.02/.906) aren’t great, but Neuvy was arguably the best Cap on Friday night, and his 17-for-17 second period Saturday night allowed the team to bust the game wide open.
Dany Sabourin Sitting on an NHL bench pays Sabs better than sitting on an AHL bench, so good for him.
Semyon Varlamov Hopes to play this week, as he recovers from a seemingly ever-present groin injury.
Karl Alzner A bit of a rocky start out of the gate for King Karl, as he has been on the ice for the last three goals the Caps have surrendered and is dead last among the blueliners in shorthanded and total ice time through two games.
John Carlson Had a great Saturday night, including a goal, a pair of assists, and being the first teammate to jump in to defend Marcus Johansson after he was jumped late in the third period… but Carlson was also on the ice for both Jersey tallies and one of the Thrashers goals, so perhaps he’s not quite perfect after all.
John Erskine Brings a physicality that’s unique among Caps rearguards, but with that came a couple of questionable penalties and an odd-man rush against as he took himself out of position to make a center-ice hit on Saturday night. Such is John Erskine (who’s now on Twitter, btw).
Mike Green Leads the team in hits, blocked shots, ice time, takeaways (tied) and fights (tied) through two games, and is second on the team in shorthanded ice time. The early returns are good.
Tom Poti Struggled in Atlanta to recapture the playoff chemistry he had with Carlson, but fared better when paired with Erskine on Saturday night. Of note, it does seem as if his shorthanded ice time has (finally) been cut a bit.
Jeff Schultz Sarge leads all Caps in shorthanded ice time for a penalty kill that is a perfect 7-for-7 so far, and the League’s reigning plus/minus champ has yet to be on the ice for any goals against.
Tyler Sloan Biding his time while waiting to get in on the action.
Nicklas Backstrom No points yet? Not worried. But these haven’t been Nick’s two best games.
Matt Bradley Matt Bradley won a fight. Up arrow.
Jason Chimera Chimera didn’t fare as well against David Clarkson as Bradley did, but his willingness to go when he had to sent the right message to his teammates. He had a big goal earlier in the game, but was also on the ice for both Jersey tallies and took a bad holding penalty.
Eric Fehr Largely invisible for the first 110 minutes or so of the season (no shots on goal in Atlanta), Fehr will hopefully use his garbage-time power-play goal to kickstart his game.
Tomas Fleischmann 55% in the dot through two to go alongside a couple of pretty helpers and a fairly nice goal… but the defense and decision-making remain suspect for a second-line center.
Boyd Gordon Brought an energy to the fourth line that David Steckel lacks, and killed off all 3:22 of penalty-killing time that he was asked to kill.
Matt Hendricks From free agent tryout to two-way deal to a sweater on opening night… yeah, that’s worth an up arrow.
Marcus Johansson Johansson’s first two games have been uneven (which might be a charitable description), but his transition to the NHL isn’t going to be without growing pains; to expect otherwise is unrealistic.
D.J. King Hasn’t played yet, but already has his first homework assignment of the season. See you on November 22, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond.
Mike Knuble Scores on a nice Ovechkin feed on Friday night and returns the favor on Saturday, but the top line is still working on its chemistry after only one pre-season game together.
Brooks Laich With a goal and three shots in each of the first two games, perhaps it’s Laich’s crease-crashing that will ignite the power play.
Alex Ovechkin The numbers are there – two goals, two assists, 13 shots – but the lead-by-example captain floated through most of Friday night’s game and, aside from his electric first goal Saturday, hasn’t been “Ovi”… yet.
Alexander Semin En route to a trio of assists through two, Sasha put in a solid opening night effort and followed it up with a bit of a clunker on Saturday (hard-working helper on Fleischmann’s goal notwithstanding), picking up a couple of penalties along the way and leisurely rejoining the play after one of them, contributing to the Tallinder goal. He needs to get more than one shot on goal per game, too.
David Steckel Strong penalty-killing effort on Friday night, scratched Saturday. As long as Gordon is healthy, expect he and Steckel to be in and out of the lineup.
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